Monitoring Blood Glucose Levels in Dogs

Your dog’s insulin needs can change—and probably will

Even after a long period of stability, you may notice a change in your dog’s glucose levels that could require a change in insulin therapy. Some reasons why your dog’s insulin needs may change include:

  • A problem with the insulin
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Changes in exercise regimen
  • The presence of other diseases
  • Hormonal changes in unspayed females
  • Medications for other conditions

Continued monitoring is important

Keep tracking your dog's progress—even after months or years of management. Your veterinarian can’t do it alone. He/she needs you to bring sudden changes in glucose levels to attention.

How to easily monitor glucose levels for dogs—in your own home

Monitoring your dog's glucose level is an important part of the overall therapy for diabetes and can be done in 2 ways:

1) Measuring actual blood glucose level

2) Checking the urine for glucose

Measuring the blood glucose level is the most accurate way to monitor your dog’s therapy. Your veterinarian will do this in the hospital, and there are ways you can perform this measurement at home. Checking the urine for glucose and ketones, although not as accurate, is another option often used by owners at home.

Monitoring blood glucose at home

If you are afraid of blood testing, you should know that it only takes 1 drop of blood from the earflap or lip of your dog. You are not putting your dog at risk and are unlikely to hurt him. If you are comfortable with blood testing, there are 2 ways you can do it easily at home:

1) Blood test strips can be matched against a sample chart

2) A handheld glucometer can make monitoring even easier and the enhanced convenience and accuracy is worth an initial investment. Talk to your veterinarian about the best glucometer for your dog.

How to perform blood glucose testing in diabetic dogs

  • Make sure that your dog's ear is warm. If not, hold it between your hands for about 1 minute to make blood collection easier.
  • Quickly prick a clean, hairless part of the ear with a sterile hypodermic needle or lancet. You can also use the needle or lancet on the inner side of your dog’s upper lip to collect a blood sample.
  • A small drop of blood will appear. Collect the drop onto the glucose test strip and wait momentarily before wiping it.
  • If necessary, use a cotton ball to stop any additional bleeding.
  • Either use a glucometer to read the test strip automatically or match the color yourself against the chart on the container.
  • Record the results, including time of collection and times of insulin injections given for that day. You should also include comments in your recording chart, which can be used to track your dog’s appetite or note any clinical signs of diabetes. Report the results to your veterinarian regularly.

Monitoring urine glucose and ketones in diabetic dogs

If you prefer urine monitoring, there are a few things you will need: urine containers, urine dipsticks, and a chart to record results. Here’s how to monitor your dog’s urine:

  • When walking your dog, keep him on a leash so that he will be within reach during urination.
  • Slowly slide the container under your dog into the urine stream.
  • Test the urine using urine dipsticks, by soaking it in the urine and then tapping it dry. Follow the instructions on the dipstick container to determine when to read the result.
  • Compare colors against the sample chart on the dipstick container.
  • Record the results, including time of collection and times of insulin injections given for that day. Your recording chart should also include comments such as your dog’s appetite and clinical signs of diabetes present on that day.
  • You should contact your veterinarian if your dog’s urine glucose is negative more than twice in a row or if the urine ketones are ever positive. Otherwise, keep track of the trend of urine glucose and ketones and report the results to your veterinarian regularly.

Keep in mind, immediately following diagnosis, your veterinarian may ask you to check your dog's urine or blood glucose 1 to 3 times a day (morning/afternoon/evening). Later in the treatment process, the need for testing will become less frequent. However, regular checkups are still necessary.

TIP: Regular monitoring is just the reassurance you need. Staying attentive will help ease your mind and keep your dog healthy.

 

 

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